I watched my daughters with wonder and amusement as they paraded and danced in front of me, the sound of their of their voices full of laughter and songs. I smiled at the sight of the two of them moving about uninhibited and carefree.
Observing them and marvelling at the freedom in which they moved, my mind drifted back to myself at their age. Unlike my children, I had been terribly withdrawn and self-conscious. I spent most of my time hiding under the balcony, in a corner in the basement or in the darkness of my closet, terrified to be seen.
I grew up with parents who bullied and shamed my sister and I. Over and over, they said I shouldn’t have been born. They called me terrible names and criticized the way I walked, how I talked and even what I did. I believed what they said. Their words and their negativity caused me to feel ashamed of who I was.
My nine year old scrunched her face at me, grabbed the edges of her soft pastel dress and stood on her toes. She twirled herself completely around before bowing low and dropping to her knees in front of me. I laughed and clapped at her antics. My eldest not to be undone by her younger sister, leapt in giant leaps across the living with her arms outstretched. She finally came to a full stop crumpling exhausted on the carpeted floor.
“Bravo.” I hollered. “Bravo.”
The two of them jumped into my arms, knocking me off the chair and onto the floor with them. We lay there in a meshed heap laughing with glee.
“Get up!” My father screamed at me, his large six foot, three hundred pound frame towering over me.
“Idiot. Stupid. Worthless piece of garbage. Get up now.” I cringed at the angry sound of his voice. He grabbed me by the arm and yanked me to my feet. “Go to your room. I don’t want to look at you. You disgust me.” I kept my head down, terrified to look at him and quickly left the room. Opening my closet door, I crept inside and crawled underneath a pile of clothes. I hid alone in the darkness for hours, overwhelmed with feelings of intense shame and fear.
I shook my head hard to try to rid myself of the memories.
“Mom, when you were a kid did you like to goof around like this with your mother?” My daughter asked.
“Why did I ever have you? You’re worthless. You’re an embarrassment. You can‘t do anything right. What good are you? Get out of my sight. You make me sick just looking at you.” The harshness of my mother’s words echoed in my mind as I stared at my daughter’s smiling face.
“My mother was too busy to play with me.” I couldn’t tell my child the truth. I couldn’t tell her my mother didn’t want to be with me.
“I’m glad you play with us.” My daughter’s happy face sparkled and shone.
“I love it too.” I told her.
I squeezed her tightly. A few years prior to the birth of my children, God touched me and I became His child. Over and over He whispered His love to me. He showed me how precious I was to Him. His love empowered me and gave me the freedom I never had. In Him, I learned to dance and sing and play. He turned my life completely around and I vowed my children would never experience the pain of a parent’s rejection as I had.
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